About etiquetteer.com

Etiquetteer is known socially as Robert B. Dimmick. A native of Louisiana, Mr. Dimmick emigrated North for education, finally settling in that Athens of America, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Dimmick spent his childhood attending weddings, reading Emily Post’s Etiquette, and being teased and taunted by other children for minding his mother, taking everything the preacher said seriously, and generally being a Good Boy. This ultimately led to an aversion to organized sports, television, and popular culture in general, and definite opinions about everything from restaurant dining to wedding dresses to historic preservation. Mr. Dimmick believes in the sartorial legacy of President Harry S Truman, getting out of the way of oncoming traffic quickly, and the tasteful expression of free speech. He is, all too often, willing to express an opinion on just about anything.

By day, Mr. Dimmick plans class reunions for one of those great big universities. By night he enjoys club openings, dinner parties, memoirs of the Fabulous, yoga, the music of the American songbook, and spirited conversation with friends. He invites you to behave with Perfect Propriety whether you want to or not.


National Bow Tie Day and the Seasonal Change of Wardrobe, Vol. 13, Issue 46

August 28th, 2014 . by Etiquetteer

Astonishingly, depending on where you look, August 28 is National Bow Tie Day in the United States. So of course Etiquetteer feels it necessary to observe with Perfect Propriety:

With Labor Day this weekend marking the Official End of Summer, the time has come to send the seersucker off to the dry cleaner and sadly, carefully, tree those white shoes until Memorial Day. Preparation for this Seasonal Ritual led Etiquetteer to contemplate how a gentleman’s Perfectly Proper wardrobe changes so completely from summer to autumn.

Etiquetteer’s workplace adopted a “summer casual” dress code years ago, and since it’s a greater sin to be overdressed than underdressed*, Etiquetteer’s “uniform of the day” changed from seersucker suit and bow tie to polo shirts and khakis. (Often in uncompromisingly bold colors chosen by That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much, who distracted Etiquetteer with a complicated seating chart.) Polos and khakis, too, will be consigned to home life after Labor Day, and Etiquetteer is not displeased to resume donning crisply tailored suits, shirts with French cuffs, and of course bow ties in the course of daily professional life.

If you have questions about how the change of seasons impact Perfect Propriety, please do send them to Etiquetteer at <queries_at_etiquetteer_dot_com>.

*It is still a sin to be underdressed. Don’t do it, and don’t make Etiquetteer come after you.

Lauren Bacall and Gold Lamé, Vol. 13, Issue 45

August 13th, 2014 . by Etiquetteer

Etiquetteer was saddened to hear yesterday of the the death of Lauren Bacall, an enduring talent from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Years ago, Etiquetteer was asked about how Perfectly Proper it might be to wear gold lamé out in public, to which Etiquetteer responded “The only Perfectly Proper way to wear gold lamé publicly is if you’re Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, and you aren’t.” This is the scene that inspired Etiquetteer to make that comment:

So while Etiquetteer continues to object to the vulgar use of gold lamé, Etiquetteer salutes Ms. Bacall as the one woman who could pull it off.

The Behavior of Brides, Vol. 13, Issue 44

August 10th, 2014 . by Etiquetteer

Etiquetteer has been fascinated with Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters, by Philip Eade, his biography of Sylvia Brett Brooke, who married into the Brooke family, “the last white Rajahs of Sarawak.” Sylvia’s behavior throughout her life comes in for its fair share of disapproval - Etiquetteer can’t say she was a Paragon of Perfect Propriety (indeed, Etiquetteer is just about to begin a chapter headed “To Hell with dignity”) - but she did receive the praise of one dear friend for her conduct at her 1911 wedding. J.M. Barrie, best known to history as the author of Peter Pan, wrote Sylvia charmingly afterward about her beautiful consideration of others: “. . . so nice to everyone, especially to servants and waiters. I think the latter such a test of a nice woman, and I watched, and no one could have come more sweetly through the ordeal.”*

Reading this led Etiquetteer to reflect on the Bride of Today, who is usually so super-conscious of the wedding day being HERS, as though only her wishes and convenience needed to be considered. So many brides believe all they have to do is receive, receive, receive (but not in a receiving line): receive congratulations, receive compliments, and especially receive gifts gifts gifts (but only from the registry that has been shamelessly advertised) and money. And that they don’t have to GIVE anything but orders: orders to give parties, orders to buy gifts, orders to buy ugly dresses, orders to lose weight, orders constantly to satisfy the Gaping Maw of Bridal Need.

Brides have a price to pay for all this, whether they like it or not, and it is the Gift of Themselves. Etiquetteer gets mighty tired of brides trying to wriggle out of their obligations to give back: by isolating themselves at “sweetheart tables” during the wedding banquet, by eliminating any receiving line** to avoid talking with wedding guests (many of whom have gone to considerable distance and expense to celebrate with her in person), and especially by adopting the fiction that Lovely Notes of Thanks are either unnecessary or able to be postponed until the first anniversary.

A wedding is a special occasion for everyone who participates, not just the Happy Couple, and consideration for the acknowledgement of all must be considered by brides. To Etiquetteer this means greeting each and every wedding guest personally (whether in a receiving line or by circulating among tables during the banquet, preferably both) and prompt and personal Lovely Notes to thank relatives, friends, and colleagues for their gifts (whether they were from the registry or not). Because you’ll go on having to know all these people long after your wedding is over (and perhaps your divorce, too.) Don’t make Etiquetteer come after you . . .

*Page 62, Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters, by Philip Eade, 2014 (Picador)

** That said, people have forgotten that receiving lines are not places to have extended conversations. All you should say in a receiving line is “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you and you look lovely” and then give way to the next wedding guest. And lest anyone think Etiquetteer is simply a Mindless Slave to Tradition, Etiquetteer needs to emphasize how wonderful it is that the size of receiving lines has been dramatically reduced, from the Happy Couple, all four of their parents, and all the bridesmaids to just the Happy Couple.

A Perfectly Proper Summer Cocktail

August 7th, 2014 . by Etiquetteer

To slake your summer thirst, and cool the poignancy of the remaining weeks in which white shoes may be worn with Perfect Propriety, Etiquetteer offers you the Etiquetteer Pink Gin:

  • In a tall glass over ice, pour one part Ryan and Wood Knockabout Gin and three parts tonic water.
  • Add 1/4 tsp. yellow chartreuse.
  • Add enough cranberry juice to tint a pale flamingo pink.
  • Garnish with lime round.
  • Serve with crisp linen cocktail napkin.

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